Family of woman killed by police wants ‘peaceful’ protests

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Seven people were shot at a Kentucky protest Thursday night over the deadly shooting of Grand Rapids native Breonna Taylor.

Officials in Louisville say the gunshots came from people within the crowd, not police officers. 

In this photo provided by instagram account of @mckinley_moore, demonstrators gather Thursday, May 28, 2020, in downtown Louisville, Ky., to protest the killing of Breonna Taylor, a black woman fatally shot by police in her home in March. (@mckinley_moore via AP)

Taylor had been living in Louisville when she was shot and killed in her own home in March. Police maintain officers knocked and announced themselves several times before forcing entry. Officers say they were immediately met with gunfire.

However, Taylor’s family says the officers’ story is inaccurate. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was also in the home, was initially charged with attempted murder, but those charges were dropped.

An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker.
An undated courtesy photo of Breonna Taylor and Kenneth Walker.

Thursday night’s protest came hours after the 911 call from the night she died was released by her family’s attorneys as part of their wrongful death lawsuit against police.

Since Taylor’s death, her family has been fighting for justice in demanding the officers involved be held accountable.

While the family appreciates the support from communities near and far, they condemned the acts of violence that erupted during Thursday night’s protest.

“We want peaceful protests,” Taylor’s cousin Tawanna Gordon told News 8 outside her Grand Rapids home. “I watched what went down in Louisville last night (and) it’s devastating to know seven people were shot last night defending my cousin. That’s not what we want, she died already so why do other people have to?”

Gordon said this week has been especially hard on their entire family, referring to listening to the 911 call for the first time and seeing another member of the black community, George Floyd, killed by police.

Gordon said she couldn’t help but think of her cousin when watching the video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck during his arrest that ended in his death. 

“Now, this man will never have his story, just like our cousin will never have her day to tell her story and it’s not fair,” Gordon said. “It does make you angry. When are you going to wake up and say, ‘We’re not doing this right? Something has to change’.”

Lonita Baker, one of the attorneys representing Taylor’s family in their wrongful death suit against the officers involved in the shooting, said there needs to be change and it needs to happen now.

“We can’t continue to have innocent black lives killed,” Baker said.

Gordon again emphasized the family’s plea for protests to remain peaceful, saying it was what her cousin would have wanted.

“This is how she fought in her life while she was living. So we need to fight like that while she’s gone to make sure people forget who she is, people never forget this is happening to people all across the world and that we need to understand that we can’t get violent. Violence is not going to change law, it’s not going to make police reform.” Gordon said.

Earlier this week, the FBI announced its investigation into the incident, as Taylor’s family hopes it leads to criminal charges.